Choose your charities wisely
Before you decide which charities will receive your hard earned money, consider these points.
- Do Your Research
Amazing as it seems, it's something that few donors do. Check charities out online and beware of ones that use a name or logo resembling a larger, more well-known organization. Use tools like charitynavigator.org to find out more about the charities that interest you. You can also get more information on what to watch for from the Federal Trade Commission.
- Avoid Giving Out of Habit
You may love your alma mater, but you owe it to yourself to find out if they're spending your money well. Giving to a friend's favorite charity? Check them out first. Giving to the charity you've always given to? That may be a great thing or it might not. Get to know what each charity you give to actually does.
- Remember, It's Not Just the Bottom Line
Most people typically avoid charities that spend too much of their donations on their administrative expenses. However, there's a growing belief among charity watchdogs that formulas used to evaluate a charity's overhead may be hampering the building of a charity's organization and damaging its long-term effectiveness.
- Give To Those In Need In Your Community
Human service organizations that help people where you live have a great impact on your community. You can also more easily evaluate a local organization's operation and goals. For example; food insecurity is a national problem, so local food banks play a significant role in helping individuals and families manage from week to week. Another example: college costs have skyrocketed since you attended college. Local scholarship funds can help area students get an education and the skills they learn can benefit your community well into the future.
- Send Money for Disaster Relief, Not Goods
Consider organizations with strong local ties to the affected area like food banks and animal shelters. Yes, you'll need to do some research to find these groups, but the Internet makes it easier. There are also some well-known national and international relief groups. Why not send goods? Because often charities have no way to disperse the goods and finding people who want what you pick out (especially clothing) is problematic; your donations could end up in a landfill.
- Consider Spreading Out Your Donations
If you give a certain percentage of your budget annually to charities, why not pick your preferred charities and send them money throughout the year? Choose the charity or charities you're most passionate about and determine what percentage of your giving budget you'll donate to each one. You may want to set aside a portion of your budget for disaster relief, for a friend's fundraiser or for memorial contributions. The choice is yours and the charities you support will thank you for it.
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